Monday, August 29, 2016

Book Review, Tour, and Giveaway: "The Honeybee Sisters series" by Jennifer Beckstrand

"The Honeybee Sisters" series by Jennifer Beckstrand contains three books, each following one of the Christner sisters who are known as the "Honeybee sisters" because of their bee keeping business.

"Sweet as Honey" is Lily's story. She thinks she has her life figured out until Dan Kanagy comes back to town and causes confusion when he acts friendly one minute and calls her names the next. Her boyfriend, Paul Glick, has protected her since they were in 8th grade, but she starts to wonder who to believe when stories don't match up.

Dan Kanagy has loved Lily since they were in 8th grade, but he hasn't been able to get past Paul Glick. When Dan sees that Paul is crushing Lily's spirit, he decides to try and win Lily away from him. Will he get the girl before it is too late?

I really enjoyed reading "Sweet as Honey" and finished it in a day. Dan's enthusiasm was contagious and I found myself smiling at his antics. You could feel Lily's pain and confusion. Aendi Bitsy was a hoot and you never knew what to expect from her. The dialog flowed well and I felt as if I was in the room with the characters. I enjoyed the little glimpses of what would be to come in the other sisters' stories based on the conversations between Dan and his best friends. I liked the little comments that went along with the recipes in the back.

"A Bee in Her Bonnet" is Poppy's story. She jumps in to do whatever is  necessary to protect her sisters and aunt. She has even punched boys in the past for hurting her sisters. She is trying to stay under control, but Luke Bontrager is arrogant and thinks his way is the best way.

Luke Bontrager can't stand Poppy's stubborn ways. He much prefers quiet, submissive girls like Dinah Eicher--until he realizes he doesn't. Will he be able to win Poppy's heart after messing up so many times?

I enjoyed watching Poppy and Luke's relationship grow two steps forward and one step backward. (or in their case, one step forward and two steps backward!) "A Bee in Her Bonnet" starts a week after the events in the first book and can be read as a stand alone book, but you get more out of it by reading it after "Sweet as Honey". The troublemaker is back from the first book as the sisters still don't know who it is that has been tormenting them. Paul Glick makes an appearance and having read "Sweet as Honey" helps to understand the interactions with him. I liked the Christian growth that the characters experienced. This book was fun and fast to read.

"Like a Bee to Honey" is Rose's story. Rose is tired of being frightened by everything, but she also doesn't want to be pitied, or to be anyone's charity project. She is sure that Josiah Yoder is being kind to her because he feels it is his Christian duty to be nice to poor, frightened Rose.

Josiah Yoder has been in love with Rose for four years, but he knows he has to move slowly or she will be scared off. Can he win her heart or will she hide away?

I liked watching Rose open up and work on being braver. Josiah was sweet and gentle. There were times I cried while reading "Like a Bee to Honey". I liked how the storyline of the troublemakers was carried through the series and finally resolved in this book. This book starts a week after the 2nd book ends and can be read as a stand alone, but I think it would be best to read them in order to gain the full experience of the series. I appreciated the gospel being woven through the book and how the characters learned more about themselves and changed for the better. As with the other two books, there are recipes included at the end of the book along with notes from Rose.

I liked how the books had the three sisters on each one wearing their favorite color with the sister who's story it was in the front holding the flower that matched her name.

About the Author

Jennifer Beckstrand is the bestselling Amish romance author of The Matchmakers of Huckleberry Hillseries for Kensington Books. Huckleberry Summer was nominated for the RT Book Reviews Reviewer’s Choice Award and the 2015 RITA® Award, and Huckleberry Hill won the 2014 LIME Award for Inspirational fiction. Both Huckleberry Hill and Huckleberry Christmas appeared in list of top ten inspirational books for 2014.
Jennifer has always been drawn to the strong faith and the enduring family ties of the Plain people and loves writing about the antics of Anna and Felty Helmuth. Jennifer has a degree in mathematics and a background in editing. She and her husband have been married for thirty years, and she has four daughters, two sons, and four adorable grandchildren, whom she spoils rotten.

Guest Post from Jennifer Beckstrand

Lily, Poppy, and Rose Christner are known as the Honeybee Sisters in their Wisconsin Amish community because they keep bees and sell the honey they pull from their beehives. The orphaned sisters came to live with their aunt Bitsy when they were very young. Aunt Bitsy was an Englischer for twenty years, but she is trying to raise her nieces to be gute and devout Amish girls.
Still, Aunt Bitsy is a bit eccentric and has brought some of the Englisch ways with her to the Honeybee Farm. She wears her dangly earrings when she’s in a bad mood, sports temporary tattoos just for fun, keeps a shotgun by the front door, and has a cat named Farrah Fawcett. (Bitsy simply adored “Charlie’s Angels.”)
With the honey they pull from their hives, the Honeybee schwesters make all sorts of appeditlich, delicious, things to eat. Their baking and their beauty attract boys to the Honeybee Farm, so Aunt Bitsy has to keep her shotgun handy to ward off the would-be suitors.
Many of the Honeybee Sisters’ recipes are included at the back of the three Honeybee Sister novels. Many more can be found in The Honeybee Sisters Cookbook available on Amazon and other online bookstores.
I hope you’ll fall in love with the Honeybee sisters, Aunt Bitsy, and their incomparable Bienenstich (Bee Sting) Cake—which recipe is included in both the cookbook and Sweet as Honey.
Here is a recipe the Honeybee Sisters would definitely make. My dear friend gave me some of these caramels for Christmas last year, and they are heavenly. The honey is used in place of the more-common corn syrup and gives the caramels a rich, deep flavor. My favorite thing about these caramels is the coarse sea salt that gives the caramels a salty crunch. Yummy!
Honey Vanilla Caramels
1 ½ cup sugar
½ cup honey
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup heavy cream
½ cup salted butter, cut into bits
Coarse sea salt
 Line a rimmed cookie sheet with parchment paper. In a clay, enamel, glass, plastic, or stainless steel (non-reactive) pot, combine the sugar, honey, and vanilla extract. Mix everything together using a large rubber spatula or wooden spoon. Cook over medium-low heat until the sugar melts. When the sugar has melted, increase heat to medium and cook until the mixture caramelizes and is a deep amber color. Do not stir the mixture once it starts to boil. Instead, swirl it around occasionally with the pan’s handle. (This will help the caramel cook more evenly.)
While the caramel is cooking, place the heavy cream in a small saucepan on low heat. As soon as it reaches a simmer, remove pan from the heat and set aside.
When the caramel has reached a deep amber color, reduce heat to low and slowly whisk in the bits of butter. Whisk well until the butter is completely melted.
Add the warm cream and whisk until smooth.
Turn the heat back up to medium and cook until the caramel reaches a temperature of 245°. Carefully pour the hot caramel onto the parchment-lined cookie sheet. Let it rest for about 8 minutes, then sprinkle with desired amount of sea salt.
Cool completely (about three hours), before cutting into squares and wrapping with parchment paper.
(Adapted from
Blog Stops
August 25: A Reader’s Brain
August 28: The Power of Words
August 31: cherylbbookblog
August 31: Quiet Quilter
September 1: Rhonda’s Doings
September 1: Book Babble
September 2: Lighthouse Academy
September 4: Bukwurmzzz
September 5: Donna’s BookShelf
September 7: Blogging with Carol


To celebrate her tour, Jennifer is giving away five copies of The Honeybee Sisters Cookbook! Click here to enter:  (I have this book and will be reviewing it on my blog October 2nd. It is nice!)

"Sweet as Honey" is available in paperback:
  • Series: The Honeybee Sisters (Book 1)
  • Mass Market Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Zebra (June 28, 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1420140205
  • ISBN-13: 978-1420140200
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1 x 6.8 inches

and in Kindle edition:
  • File Size: 1358 KB
  • Print Length: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Zebra (June 28, 2016)
  • Publication Date: June 28, 2016
  • Sold by: Penguin Random House Publisher Services
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0165HUVPK

"A Bee in Her Bonnet" is available in paperback:
  • Series: The Honeybee Sisters (Book 2)
  • Mass Market Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Zebra (July 26, 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1420140221
  • ISBN-13: 978-1420140224
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.9 x 6.8 inches

and in Kindle edition:
  • File Size: 813 KB
  • Print Length: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Zebra (July 26, 2016)
  • Publication Date: July 26, 2016
  • Sold by: Penguin Random House Publisher Services
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B017G7HDJU

"Like a Bee to Honey" is available in paperback:
  • Series: The Honeybee Sisters (Book 3)
  • Mass Market Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Zebra (August 30, 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1420140248
  • ISBN-13: 978-1420140248
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.9 x 6.8 inches

and in Kindle edition:
  • File Size: 988 KB
  • Print Length: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Zebra (August 30, 2016)
  • Publication Date: August 30, 2016
  • Sold by: Penguin Random House Publisher Services
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0190HGU5C

I received free copies of these books through Netgalley in exchange for my honest review so I could participate in the Celebrate Lit blog tour. All thoughts and opinions are my own and no other compensation was received.

1 comment:

Jennifer said...

Thank you so much for having me on your blog today. Aendi Bitsy was so much fun to write, as were the love stories for her three nieces. One of my favorite things about writing Amish fiction is the opportunity to see how my characters grow in the gospel and learn things through the lens of faith. Thanks for reading!